If you haven’t read it – you better. By "it" I’m referring to the draft report on Multiple Pathways developed by WestEd. created in response to CA Assembly Bill 2648 (Bass) that “ requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop, in conjunction with specified stakeholders, a report that explores the feasibility of establishing and expanding additional career multiple pathway programs in California”. My hope is that the energy surrounding this effort marks what will later be viewed (to co-opt Malcolm Gladwell’s term) as a “tipping point” in K-12 educational reform.
The introduction to Multiple Pathways on the ConnectEd web site begins with the following statement: “California’s high schools are not working for large numbers of young people, with students feeling bored, unchallenged, or unclear about the relevance of school. Multiple pathways make learning exciting and challenging. They connect strong academics with real–world experience in a wide range of fields, such as engineering, arts and media, and biomedical and health sciences—helping students gain an advantage in high school, college, and career". After reading the draft and having recently completed a research study at a model “Multiple Pathways program (High Tech high, San Diego), I find myself thinking about the tremendous investment that Autodesk has made in promoting the same principles that are essential to Multiple Pathways. A perfect example is the curriculum from the Autodesk Animation Academy curriculum. At first glance the images presented above may seem random without any coherent message. A review of the curriculum however reveals that the images embody a core principle of multiple pathways… linking academics to real world experiences through effective use of technology. Through the curriculum a student in science has access to alternative learning strategies for understanding the complexities of the digestive system; digging into the art of forensics, developing an appreciation for the cultural and engineering implications of historical architecture or interacting with models that offer deeper insight into weather patterns.
In my gut I sense that a multiple pathways approach can play a pivotal role in transforming our current, worn out way of envisioning school. In order to succeed however, this pedagogical shift will require the types of creative curricular innovations offered by organizations such as Autodesk and creative leaders and teachers who will embrace student centered approach to learning where collaborations between students and teachers becomes the norm.